Job Hunt Stereotypes (And What Companies are Really Looking For)
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Job Hunt Stereotypes (And What Companies are Really Looking For)

WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR CAREER, IS IT TRUE THAT AGE AIN'T NOTHIN' BUT A NUMBER?

On a quiet afternoon I took a look around my new office and I was struck with a sudden realization.

I was outnumbered. 

About ninety percent of my teammates are considered part of the Millennial Generation, while I am part of Generation X.

There was a little bit of panic that hit me. Did the person that hired me make a mistake? Was I really in the right place? Were they just trying to even out their demographics and make a statement about the fact that they don’t discriminate against “older” people?

Would I ever fit in?

GENERATIONAL STEREOTYPES

Let’s be honest, every generation seems to be stuck with their own set of stereotypes. And we can sometimes focus on this distinction way too often.

Every generation seems to be stuck with their own set of stereotypes. And we can sometimes focus on this distinction way too often.

Some would say that Baby Boomers (typically those who are over 50) are completely unyielding and they would place order and their own security way above creativity. When describing them, some might say “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, thinking that those in this generation resist innovation, are workaholics, and that their lives are completely out of balance.

However, they’d also say that Millennials (mostly those under the age of 34) just suffer from a lack of focus and discipline, and aren’t committed to anything—except maybe technology and the love of their favorite appendage, their phone. Millennials are oft-accused of having the attention span of a gnat and might be described as irresponsible dreamers.

Generation X, the “middle children”, well there is no helping them—they may be the smallest group, but they turn up with the second rate attributes of the two other groups. They are thought of as substandard in the problem-solving category, but when it comes to focusing, forget it.  When it’s time to advance on the career ladder, they think the Baby Boomers are just standing in their way, and yet the Millennials are nipping at their heels, forcing the Gen Xers out of the way.

Related: Being the Baby of the Workplace

So, what have we learned here? Baby boomers are old-fashioned, Millennials lack focus, and Gen Xers are stuck somewhere in between?

No, what we’ve learned (I hope) is that stereotypes are often just generalizations about a group or class of people. Of course, there is often some amount of truth behind the characteristics described from the stereotyped group. Furthermore, the purpose of stereotypes can actually be looked at in a positive way. It might actually help give you an idea on how to interact with others that you meet along the way or give you a better idea of how to respond to certain situations, because you may have had a similar experience in the past. 

WHAT THEY'RE LOOKING FOR

Nevertheless, hiring managers today aren’t looking at what generation category they should lump you into—or, at least, they shouldn’t be—they are looking at a couple other much more essential components. {Click to tweet}

For instance, emotional intelligence is a factor that many employers are taking into consideration. Emotional IQ measures an individual’s ability to recognize and process other people’s emotions (and their own) and how effective they are at using that information to guide decision-making.

This could be considered a major factor in personal and professional perceptions and interactions. Emotional intelligence includes the skills used to understand and manage emotions effectively. Over one out of every three managers reported that they placed increased emphasis on emotional intelligence, because those candidates with a high EI tend to remain calm under pressure, can resolve conflict effectively, and lead by example.  

But the overwhelming response from hiring managers, including the one who hired me, is “We are looking for FIT”. 

Hiring managers aren’t really looking for clones or what generational group you would be included in. They are seeking people who have drive and a unique perspective, someone who can enhance the team. {Click to tweet} That magic fit is going to be someone who is creative and has the chemistry to fit into the company’s culture. If the hiring manager was to sit down with that person for a meal outside the office, the hope is that they could keep it interesting—regardless of their generation’s stereotypes.  

Hiring managers aren’t really looking for clones or what generational group you would be included in. They are seeking people who have drive and a unique perspective, someone who can enhance the team.

MAINTAIN PERSPECTIVE

In my case, I freaked out for nothing. I worried that because I wasn’t part of the majority generation that I wouldn’t fit in or that my co-workers would think I was tragically uncool and not at all hip (let’s face it, I’m not cool because I just used the word “cool”). 

Hindsight is 20/20. I actually think I fit in with my co-workers very well and it turns out nobody could even guess my age—and honestly, they weren’t worried about it to begin with.

I shouldn’t have been either. And neither should you.

Related: Dealing With the Playground Mentality at Work